Radon Testing

Radon Testing is a separate service that can be added to your home inspection.  This is a 48 hour test.  The monitor can be dropped off two days prior to the inspection, or can be started the same day of the inspection - then picked up two days later.
 

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MN Radon Measurement Professional
Tim Walz -
License #: RMEA-00129

It’s estimated that one out of three homes in Minnesota has elevated levels of radon gas.  Since 2009 Minnesota State Building Code has required that homes must be built with a passive radon control system.  Most existing homes do not have radon mitigation systems - and I'm often asked, "Should I have my home tested for radon?"  In most cases, I believe the answer is yes.
 

Why?  Primarily for health reasons and peace of mind, but there is a financial reason as well.  Keep in mind, a majority of home buyers now request radon tests during their home inspections - and if the results are elevated - they often ask the sellers to pay for mitigation.  If you do not have your home tested - and eventually resell the home - the odds are that the next buyer will have the radon levels tested.  And if the levels are elevated, you will likely be asked to pay for the remediation.  At that point, you'll wonder why you didn't do this earlier.
 

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What is Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that forms in the earth.  It is colorless, odorless, tasteless and radioactive.  As it forms, it rises to the surface of the earth where it dissipates rapidly into the air.  However, when radon enters residential and other tightly enclosed structures, its concentration can rise to levels that increase cancer risks, particularly when inhabitants of homes with higher radon levels are exposed over a period of years.

 

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The primary concern with radon is radioactive decay, or radon decay products (RDP's). Alpha radiation emits alpha particles, which damages lung tissue. This occurs when alpha energy is delivered directly to the cells' DNA. Radon Decay products have half lives of 30 minutes. This means that radon levels will be constantly fluctuating within your home as the radon decays.

The risk to the occupants is 15 times higher for smokers. Higher radon levels pose greater risks to the occupants and longer time exposed also adds greater risk.
 

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Does MN Have High Levels?

In general, homes in the Midwest are much more likely to have higher radon levels, due to the fact that we build most of our homes with basements, and also because Minnesota contains widespread low grade uranium and radium. About one out of three homes in Minnesota has radon levels above EPA guidelines.

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Should I test my home for Radon?

Testing is the only way to find out how much radon is in your home. The EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon gas.  We also do, even if it just for re-sale purposes.

Are some homes less likely to have Radon?

Studies show that a home’s tightness, foundation type and soil type have no predictable effect on radon levels.

A home with a Heat Recover Ventilator (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) will have radon levels 20%-50% below comparable homes (without these systems).  HRV's are required in modern construction, but most Minnesota homes do not have this technology installed.  Most homeowners that do have these systems do not maintain them, so it is common to find excessively clogged filters inside these units during my inspections (clogged filters prevent the unit from functioning properly).  Many times, these units are not even turned on, or are not set at proper control settings.  The bottom line is that most homeowners have no idea what these devices are for.

So while HRV's are great for reducing radon levels, they are not a substitute for an actual radon mitigation system.

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How are elevated levels of Radon fixed?

Most people are surprised to learn how easy it is to eliminate Radon concerns in a home.  A standard radon mitigation system consists of a 3″ plastic vent pipe that penetrates the basement floor slab.  The pipe must extend above the roof line - much like a plumbing vent.  A fan is connected to this pipe - either inside the attic (interior mount), or at the house exterior (exterior mount).  This fan pulls air and gases from below the floor slab up the pipe and out into the atmosphere, creating a negative pressure zone in the area under the basement slab.  This prevents most radon from entering the home.  If drain tile is present, the pipe can be integrated into the drain tile, as this creates a perfect way to suck soil gases from under the entire slab.  Gaps in the slab are also sealed to help prevent radon entry.  An added side benefit is that water vapor is also removed, which helps to keep the basement dry - and also can eliminate musty odors.  The average cost to have this system installed ranges between $1200 and $2000 (exterior mounted systems are generally lower in cost).